This is the next post in a series of articles discussing issues that commonly arise in Fort Worth, Texas oil field accident cases. Our previous article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed in this series. It also emphasized the importance of retaining a law firm that is able to handle long-term, expensive, and complex litigation on your behalf. This is particularly true in oil field accident litigation. Multiple defendants, insurance companies, and expert witnesses can result in high legal costs and fees. A firm with significant financial resources can help see your case to its conclusion and preserve your rights. In this post, we will explain why lawsuits filed in oil field accident cases often name “John Doe” and other fictitious defendants. If you have been injured in an oil field accident, we recommend that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
As previously discussed, oil field accident cases can be complicated for a variety of reasons. One such reason is the fact that there are often multiple parties who bear responsibility for the incident. We have previously written about the importance of identifying all of the potential defendants in an oil accident case. This can be challenging. Oil companies are often multinational corporations with complicated corporate structures. It is not uncommon for them to have several layers of affiliates and subsidiaries who are not readily identifiable at the beginning of an accident investigation. Other complications include the roles played by various unrelated companies in a complex oil field operation. For instance, the owners of the wells, operators of the site, companies providing labor, and equipment manufacturing may each be potentially liable.
Identifying every potential defendant is imperative to maximize the victim’s ability to recover the full amount of damages to which they may be entitled. Your attorney will quickly begin investigating and identifying defendants. In oil field accident cases, however, doing so may not be possible before the applicable two-year statute of limitations expires. If a case is not settled before such time, a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the victim’s legal rights. Under these circumstances, the plaintiff’s attorney will file a lawsuit against fictitious parties as placeholders to preserve the ability to file suit against a later identified defendant. The complaint will name the known defendants and list a number of fictitious “John Doe” defendants. With the permission of the court, defendants identified after the lawsuit has been filed may be named in place of a fictitious defendant.
If you have been injured in an oil field accident then it is important that you retain a firm with the resources necessary to thoroughly investigate your case and identify all potential defendants. Retaining a firm that lacks these resources can result in a reduced settlement offer or damage award. When interviewing attorneys we suggest that you look for a firm that has multiple lawyers on staff, attorneys who are Board Certified in Personal Injury Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and an on-site investigator. This is true for injuries that occurred in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere.